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Self Service

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

The new season is just around the corner with a wedding in two weeks time and another a week after that. So, shrugging off the effects of a horrid cold, I spent some time at the garage last week, completing the servicing work on the cars. The New Zealand car was the last one needing attention so it was treated to a full service. Firstly an engine oil change followed by checks of the oil levels in the gearbox and back axle. Then out came the grease gun to pump grease into the steering joints, steering box and spring shackles. After that, I had to pull out the wooden floor-boards to expose the brake cross tubes which needed lubricating as…

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Marketing

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Enquiries have started to pick up now that Christmas and New Year are over. The phone hasn't been ringing off the hook, but there has been a good steady flow of people asking about availability and getting quotes. It will be interesting to see whether or not this flow continues because I deliberately didn't attend the St Albans wedding fair last autumn and the organiser warned me that I might lose business as a result. Despite this, I took a calculated risk and cut back on my marketing spend. I already have a generous budget allocated to the running of my website and I am hoping this will be enough. Wedding fairs can be ok but I have often pondered their…

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A quiet winter

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Christmas is always a quiet time for me and I really don't mind at all. Back in the 1920s, few cars had the luxurious features which we now take for granted and my cars have never been fitted with heaters. This makes a chauffeur's life extremely uncomfortable in the depths of winter. It isn't too bad when the engine is running because the heat permeates through the wooden floorboards but when you are sitting, waiting in the car, it gets very chilly. For this reason, I only take on occasional weddings between November and February and then I warn people that the cars can't handle ice and snow on the roads. However, I am taking still open for business and already…

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Classic car show

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

On Friday, Karl and I went to the classic car show at the NEC to look at the wonderful vehicles on display. It was a great day, exploring the various exhibits and searching the autojumble for the parts I need for the Austins. There was a big display of Austin cars but they were all a bit too modern for me; 1930s onwards! There were four halls jammed with a wonderful selection of classic cars. The American cars were impressive as were the vintage sports cars. There was the 'Beast of Turin', a Fiat S76 dating back to 1911, sporting a 28 litre engine which shoots flames from the exhaust. Also a lovely Edwardian Wolseley racing car which the owner…

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Maintenance

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

The wedding season is now over and the cars will have a well-earned rest over the winter. I, however, shall not be taking it easy because this is the time of year when most of the maintenance work gets done. The two ivory and black cars are about to be treated to fresh antifreeze and a change of oil. There are no end of greasing points to be squirted with the grease gun and the back axle and gearbox will have the oil levels checked. There are several other little mechanical jobs to be attended to as well before I give the insides an early spring clean, focusing particularly on the seats and carpets. Those cars will be shining like…

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Webfactory

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

A little while ago, I received a phone call from a complete stranger who asked how I was getting on with my website company. Normally alarm bells start ringing at such a question and nuisance sales calls are terminated in double quick time. In this instance, the caller soon explained he was a wedding photographer who was considering having a website designed by Webfactory; the company I use. He wanted to know whether or not they provided a good service and how I got on with them. Clearly this was somebody doing his homework before spending his hard-earned money. Actually, this isn't an unusual event because I have been contacted a few times in the past by potential customers of…

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Sorry for the delay

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

It has been quite a while since my last blog. The delay is a partly due to lethargy but also to me recovering from an operation on my back. I am out of hospital now and on the mend, but it is unlikely I shall be able to drive the vintage cars until October. During my enforced absence, my wonderful team of drivers have rallied round and have taken the drives which I have been forbidden to do. They have been fantastic! However, I am being very careful not to take advantage of their good nature. They are friends and family who have been taught the mysteries of a crash gearbox and have mastered the idiosyncrasies of driving a heavy…

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New website

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Do you like the new website? The company that hosts my site persuaded me that an update was urgently needed to make it more readable on tablets and smartphones. So I spent some money having it re-designed and I think the results are excellent. Sadly, the designer dispensed with my logo, which makes my existing supply of business cards and leaflets redundant, but I think it is a sacrifice worth making. The wedding season is now in full swing and I have already had two trips to St Albans Abbey and one to Hatfield House. I quite like going to venues like these for the excellent photo opportunities. I make a point of taking a photo at every wedding I do…

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Photoshoot

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

The other day I received an email asking if I would be interested in taking one of my cars to a fashion photoshoot. Apparently there is to be a vintage theme and the organiser thought one of my cars would be a perfect prop for the outside shots. Sadly, there is no fee involved but I am to be given copies of the photographs to use for publicity purposes and the up and coming designer will get her chance to publish photos of her work in a magazine. I certainly don't begrudge a few hours of my time, on a day when I have no wedding bookings, to help someone get started in a very competitive industry. It will be interesting…

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A tricky decision

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

As the years go by, spare parts for my cars are becoming increasingly difficult to find. The Vintage Austin Register is a club for owners and enthusiasts and it is a good source of spares. They arrange the manufacture of many of the most commonly needed items and this has worked well for many years. Until now, such items have been relatively mundane and modestly-priced. However, the technical experts on the committee have identified a critical shortage of useable cylinder blocks, which are large, heavy lumps of cast iron without which the car is fit only for the scrap heap. The problem is that the original moulds have long-since been thrown away and the technical drawings were destroyed in a…

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